Thursday, January 19, 2006

Community Emergency Response Team Training

Something I talked with neighbors about while campaigning was what many thought was the need for some courses that helped train students for the eventualities of disasters.

The January issue of the Neighbors paper has an article that announces such a course (CERT) open to the public. It offers American Red Cross Training for First Aid, cardio-pulmonary resusitation (CPR), Automatic external defibrillator (AED), and more. Registrations are being accepted Tuesday evenings 1/17 - mid-March.

Barbara Buddington is Executive Director of WINCOG and can be reached at 860.456.2221 or director.wincog@snet.net

But let's explore this subject just a bit further. Many years ago Candy Stripers would offer humanitarian services at hospitals, and so on. That model of public service has faded and is probably far too naive for the times we live in.

As a community we should begin to examine ways to reconnect high school students to the needs and realities of citizens in distress. Massive floods such as Katrina, though an unlikely local disaster event, underscored the plight of the elderly and shut-ins of society. I would like to see the Region 19 schools begin to think about and develop some cirriculum ideas about a hybrid program that identify likely crises that students might become exposed to and the skills that they will need.

For example, all nurses know how to leverage weight to lift and move an incapacitated person, many elderly need special handling to be moved out of harm's way, school computers could be networked to shut-in citizens who might enjoy listening to plays or musical presentations on-line or have a communications lifeline in a time of need. And students should be given College credits applicable toward their core requirements for this level of community service - let's call it Critical Communication skills.

And, while we're on the subject, the State should begin an open dialogue about dual use funding of schools. Money for programs like this needs to be supplied by the State above and beyond mere education funding supplements. As budgets are strained it makes sense to use our funds to accomplish multiple needs.

These programs must become channels of social responsibility for the communities they serve. By dual use, I mean that the State should pay the salaries of janitorial, technical personnel, and facilities and equipment that serve both education and civil preparedness programs. This would lift some of the strain of school funding off the local communities (especially small communities).

Let's face it, schools now serve most communities day and night and far beyond the scope of K-12 citizens. Yet State funding does nothing to supplement these demands and depreciations of resources. While there's a budget surplus let's be sure schools and education are first in line and rebates to citizens follows next.

Secondly, elderly citizens who participate in programs with students should be eligible for the same prescription drug benefits as State employees enjoy. By sharing their gifts of experience they should also benefit.

Just some thoughts for all of you to talk about.

Finally, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Neighbors as well. It is a wonderful monthly pamplet of interesting things to do in the area and it is, by far, the most comprehensive of its kind.

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